What's it like to live in Reading, PA?


Cynthia Griffith

Profile written by local expert:

Cynthia Griffith

Reading, Pennsylvania's history is steeped in innovation. The metro area is home to the real-life Reading Railroad from the Monopoly board game, along with glimpses into the Allegheny Aqueduct and a more than 100-year-old, seven-story pagoda that overlooks the bordering Reading Prong mountain formation. During the 19th century, people from all over the world were drawn to Reading by the promise of work in the thriving manufacturing and transportation industries. As a result, the region's community is diverse: Dominican-run corner stores share a block with Italian-owned hotels.

As the Rust Belt's economy has ebbed and flowed, the region has existed in an almost constant state of transition. For this reason, living in Reading poses its fair share of challenges. 

Still, the Reading metro area, particularly suburban communities like Wyomissing, continues to attract new residents with its low cost of living and low crime rates. Reading also benefits from a convenient location: It's just a stone's throw away from Philadelphia, and residents can easily access Lancaster and Amish country.

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Reading, Pennsylvania is ranked:

#84 in Best Places to Live

6.3

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    5.4
  • Value
    6.7
  • Job Market
    6.2
  • Quality of Life
    6.8
  • Net Migration
    5.6

Read how we rank places

Reading, PA Quick Stats

  • 415,500

    Metro Population

  • $46,100

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 39.9

    Median Age

  • $151,900

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.2%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $885

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 24.9 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Reading, PA?

The cost of living in Reading is well below that of many other metro areas, thanks in large part to affordable housing costs. The median home sale price in Reading proper is much lower than the state average, although home prices tend to be higher in suburban areas like Wyomissing. 

Value Index

Index Score: 6.7 /10

How we calculate this.


Reading offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2018-12


Reading
$151,900

USA
$226,500

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Reading, PA.

What's the weather like in Reading, PA?

Reading experiences all four seasons: snowy winters, crisp autumns, cool springs and warm summers. 

What's the best way to get around Reading, PA?

While the railroads hold the highest historical value, many Reading residents opt for a different type of public transit in the form of buses. The Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority operates bus routes throughout the greater metro area. However, the majority of residents still choose to rely on their own cars to get around. The metro area is within easy reach of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which runs east to west across the state, connecting Reading with other major metro areas like Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.

Biking is an increasingly popular option for many residents – especially for those who can't afford to own a car. But while Reading officials are working to make the region more bike-friendly, bike lanes and signage are scarce.

Those traveling farther afield use Reading Regional Airport to connect to larger travel hubs like Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh and Raleigh, North Carolina. Intercity bus services are provided by Greyhound.

Commuting in Reading, PA

Means of Transportation
Driving
90%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
3%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
2%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

24.9 minutes

1.5 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Reading, PA?

Reading's population consists of millennials, families and retirees. The majority of Reading residents do not identify as religious. However, among those who do, Catholicism and Protestantism are the most common faiths.

Poverty is a big issue in Reading proper, about 40 percent of residents are living at or below the poverty level. As a result, Reading has a significant and visible homeless population. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Reading as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Reading, PA?

Active residents will find plenty of ways to burn energy in Reading. The metro area has more than 125 miles of trails that are ideal for walking, jogging and biking. During the warmer months, kayaking and canoeing along the Schuylkill River are particularly popular pastimes. Those who prefer to watch sports can cheer on the Reading Fightin Phils, the Philadelphia Phillies' minor league team, at FirstEnergy Stadium.

There are also plenty of places to exercise a credit card. While other premium outlets have since been constructed in nearby cities, Reading's VF Outlet Center remains the pioneer of the outlet mall industry and the only one in the region that features completely indoor shopping.

The metro area is also home to a number of noteworthy cultural attractions. The GoggleWorks Center for the Arts hosts regular exhibits and workshops, while the Genesius Theatre puts on Broadway favorites. History buffs can learn about the evolution of flight at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, or take a glimpse into the life of an American legend at the Daniel Boone Homestead.